Hong Kong’s reputation as a relative newcomer to the contemporary art scene is about to change. Leading international galleries such as White Cube, Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, Pace, and David Zwirner have now settled in Central, Hong Kong’s central business district, while the M+ museum of visual culture is scheduled to open in West Kowloon in 2019.
And Art Basel Hong Kong—established in the city in 2013 and scheduled for March 29-31 this year—continues to prove its mettle every year.
So where to drink, dine, sleep, and play if you’re visiting Hong Kong for the fair? And where to purchase an investment property if you’re a frequent visitor? Let us be your guide.
“Art Basel Hong Kong is the largest contemporary art fair in the city,” says Eric Wong of Landscope, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in the city. “To have access to the world’s premier modern and contemporary artworks is an immersive learning process, and everyone should experience it if they can.”
All the action takes place at the Convention & Exhibition Centre on the island’s waterfront in Wan Chai, so it’s a good idea to base yourself in nearby Central. The city’s business district is also home to some of its best shopping and dining destinations. Check in to The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, the luxury hotel group’s boutique high-rise property. A couple of blocks away you’ll find the group’s starrier—and much bigger—sibling, or across the water there’s The Peninsula Hong Kong, which, at 90 years old, is the glittering grande dame of the mainland. The hotel’s helipad could also prove convenient for easier departures.
At the end of day one, treat yourself at one of the city’s many exciting restaurants for a taste of traditional dim sum—the three-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation in Wan Chai never fails to impress.
Make a beeline for The Cupping Room for a perfectly balanced single-origin espresso or flat white. Barista Kapo Chiu scooped third place in the World Barista Championships in 2017, so you’ll be in good hands here.
Then, as you’re so close, take a slight detour en route to the Convention & Exhibition Centre via Hong Kong’s first public sculpture park, found on the waterfront. The Harbour Arts Sculpture Park features work by a range of international artists including Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, and Yayoi Kusama, as well as local artists including Morgan Wong and Kacey Wong, and it is a great place to stretch your legs in the morning.
Next up, take in a talk in the center's auditorium. As always with Art Basel, there’s a standout line-up of curators, artists, and gallerists conversing on a wide range of topics that relate to both the international and local scene.
For lunch, head to the Michelin-starred Duddell’s, a chic two-level restaurant and bar conceived by British designer Ilse Crawford. Located in Central, it serves an inventive tasting menu and one of the city’s best weekend brunches. The leafy terrace is the perfect place to take a break with a glass in hand. Duddell’s also has a membership program that offers invitations to art talks, exhibition openings, and parties, and special access to art fairs.
The China Club may be one of the city’s most opulent member’s clubs, but it is possible to get a table for dinner here as a non-member if you book well in advance. Serving traditional Chinese fine dining and dim sum, there’s a killer cocktail menu and a specialty tea service, all housed inside the historic Bank of China Building. The club contains paintings and sculptures by artists from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and there are superior views of the skyline from its library balcony.
Day Three: Morning
As a long-term partner with Art Basel, Ruinart champagne has a long history working with contemporary artists, and its collaboration this year with Chinese artist Liu Bolin is no exception. On day three, start with a visit to the Collector’s Lounge to view a series of commissioned photographic works named “The Invisible Hands,” an immersive collection that aims to replicate the elegance and craft of this historic Champagne house.
The idea behind this collaboration was to capture the ties that bind history, culture, nature, dedication, and know-how
“When it comes to Art Basel Hong Kong, I believe in serendipity,” says Frédéric Dufour, president and global CEO of Ruinart. “Liu Bolin is an artist with a deep commitment and connection to the environment and with strong human values. The idea behind this collaboration was to capture the ties that bind history, culture, nature, dedication, and know-how.
“By making the human form disappear, Bolin trains the spotlight on the techniques and know-how that go into making champagne. Through the invisibility of actual people, he accentuates the expertise of the men and women who work behind closed doors, and highlights Ruinart’s close relationship with nature.”
Day Three: Afternoon
In the afternoon, Eric Wong suggests spending time at the Encounters section of the fair. It’s dedicated to presenting large-scale sculpture and installation works by leading artists from around the world. Presented in prominent locations throughout the exhibition halls and curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor, it’s tipped by Wong as a highlight.
Afterwards, how about some retail therapy at PMQ in Central? Formerly the location of the city’s first Police Married Quarters at Hollywood Road, the building was renovated and turned into a landmark for the creative industries in early 2010. Incorporating many historical and modern elements, 100 local stores selling fashion, homewares, jewellery, and watches can now be found inside, in addition to some large-scale installations.
On your final evening in the city, Wong suggests you put on your finery for a night at Sugar, the exclusive bar on the roof of the EAST Hotel in Taikoo. Try the excellent tapas while you sip a signature cocktail and admire the spectacular views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline. “I’m sure you’ll say it’s an experience that you can’t miss,” he says.